I tend to be more task- than people-oriented. It’s not that I don’t value people—I do! I like people. I care about relationships. I want the best for the folks I interact with. It’s just that sometimes getting stuff done is the best way to care for people—at least it seems that way to me. I mean, if nobody does the stuff, then how will bills get paid, meals get made, leaves get raked, and all that?
I can tell—some of you are nodding your heads vigorously because you get it! But others of you just aren’t buying it. It’s okay, I understand. I’m just telling you the way it is for me.
So, when I was meditating on the story of the Good Samaritan recently, I reluctantly had to admit that I identified with the priest and the Levite (see Luke 10:25-37). They walked by the guy who’d been robbed and beaten, but they didn’t stop.
I rationalized that they simply didn’t see him. They were so intent on getting to where they were going so they could do the important thing that needed doing that they didn’t even see him. Surely if they’d seen him, they would have stopped, right? They were just super-focused on their assignment. Focus is a good thing, isn’t it?
But when I attended to the text again, I noticed, grudgingly, that it says they did see him. Only they didn’t stop.
However, the Samaritan, we all know, had a different reaction. “When he saw him,” Luke writes, “he took pity on him.” Some translations say he “felt compassion” for him.
What’s the difference between “seeing” and “seeing with compassion”? I wondered, inviting the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text for me.
It’s the difference between seeing with your head and seeing with your heart, He seemed to reply.
Then open the eyes of my heart, Lord! Help me to see with compassion!
Well, that is a prayer that God apparently likes to answer. It wasn’t but a few hours later that I, intent on a certain task—a very spiritual task, I might add—was interrupted by someone wanting my time. I wanted, oh how I wanted, to cross over to the other side, as it were. But the words of my prayer came back to me. So I stopped what I was doing. I postponed my project and gave my full attention to the one whose need had arrested me.
It was clearly a divine appointment. I wondered how many of those I’ve missed because I have been seeing with eyes of my head instead of eyes of my heart. But as quickly as I started beating myself up over it, God interrupted. You know what, Child? I see you, too. And I see you with compassion.
Oh, dear Father, I prayed. Thank You! Thank You for seeing me with Your heart. Give me Your heart to see others, too!
And I’m pretty sure He will.